The influence of category-specific and system-wide preferences on cross-linguistic word order patterns

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Typological data shows a tendency for languages to exhibit harmonic (i.e. consistent) ordering between heads and dependents. However, some categories seem to contradict this tendency. Here we investigate one such case, the order of the noun with respect to two dependents—adjectives, which tend to follow the noun and genitives which precede. We report two silent gesture experiments examining (i) whether there are cognitive biases favouring postnominal adjective and prenominal genitive order in a single trial judgement task, and (ii) if those preferences continue to influence order when participants learn a complete word order system. Our results shed light on how biases for individual categories of elements interact with biases that affect the wider linguistic system. While participants strongly prefer postnominal adjectives and prenominal genitives when these are judged in isolation, when they learn a system of ordering, these biases are obscured and (at least in some cases) harmony emerges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsJennifer Culbertson, Andrew Perfors, Hugh Rabagliati, Veronica Ramenzoni
PublishereScholarship University of California
Pages1011-1018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jun 2022
Event44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 27 Jul 202230 Jul 2022
Conference number: 44
https://cognitivesciencesociety.org/cogsci-2022/

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Volume44
ISSN (Electronic)1069-7977

Conference

Conference44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
Abbreviated titleCogSci 2022
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityToronto
Period27/07/2230/07/22
Internet address

Keywords

  • cognitive bias
  • silent gesture
  • harmony
  • word order
  • learning

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